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Mol Microbiol. 2003 Jan;47(2):463-9.

Molecular analysis of fusidic acid resistance in Staphylococcus aureus.

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Institut für Medizinische Mikrobiologie, Klinikum der J.W. Goethe-Universität, Paul-Ehrlich-Str. 40, 60596 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.


Fusidic acid is a potent antibiotic against severe Gram-positive infections that interferes with the function of elongation factor G (EF-G), thereby leading to the inhibition of bacterial protein synthesis. In this study, we demonstrate that fusidic acid resistance in Staphylococcus aureus results from point mutations within the chromosomal fusA gene encoding EF-G. Sequence analysis of fusA revealed mutational changes that cause amino acid substitutions in 10 fusidic acid-resistant clinical S. aureus strains as well as in 10 fusidic acid-resistant S. aureus mutants isolated under fusidic acid selective pressure in vitro. Fourteen different amino acid exchanges were identified that were restricted to 13 amino acid residues within EF-G. To confirm the importance of observed amino acid exchanges in EF-G for the generation of fusidic acid resistance in S. aureus, three mutant fusA alleles encoding EF-G derivatives with the exchanges P406L, H457Y and L461K were constructed by site-directed mutagenesis. In each case, introduction of the mutant fusA alleles on plasmids into the fusidic acid-susceptible S. aureus strain RN4220 caused a fusidic acid-resistant phenotype. The elevated minimal inhibitory concentrations of fusidic acid determined for the recombinant bacteria were analogous to those observed for the fusidic acid-resistant clinical S. aureus isolates and the in vitro mutants containing the same chromosomal mutations. Thus, the data presented provide evidence for the crucial importance of individual amino acid exchanges within EF-G for the generation of fusidic acid resistance in S. aureus.

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